The Figaro daily http://www.lefigaro.fr/conjoncture/ annouced today that France, first world tourist destination by the number of visitors, ranks only third in revenue behind the United States and Spain. "Spain overtook us ten years ago. Ever since are we losing market share, "says Christian Mantei of Atout France, the country's tourism promotion bureau. Last year, these revenues accounted for 36 billion euros, against 39 billion for Spain and 69 billion for the United States. The market share of France in Europe fell from 19.6% in 2000 to 16% in 2009. The British, like the Germans, are less likely to consider coming on holiday in France, focusing on long stays in Spain and Italy."
Apparently they enter France, cross the country at top speed, overnight in a not so cheap roadside inn accomodation and are counted once as visitors, then once again on their way back home.
Well let me tell you - they should stop in Avignon. Not at our place - we are not keen on overnight stays, due to our lack of organisation - but downtown anyway. Avignon is 20 km south of the fork were the huge north-south motorway A6 branches towards Spain on the A9 and the Riviera on the A7. Get out of A7 at Avignon Nord, enter the city after a few Km along the Rhone river, easily park the car (for free in the streets, after six o'clock, or at any time along the city walls), and spend a night or more into this extraordinary city. You can dine and wine yourselves like a Pope for 14 euros a head. ( The Hermitage restaurant just opened downstairs from our building, but more on this later) Then, after a pleasant night and an early morning stroll in the freshly sprayed streets, you could buy a postcard, a bag of lavender, and continue by car if you must towards Spain ( following the Nîmes signs) or Italy ( the Marseilles signs, even in you won't come near it). Maybe I should write to Mr.Mantei, and suggest him to post me on a little chair on that motorway fork, just to give info away.